We noted recently that new Congressional district lines means we’ll be seeing a lot of new faces in our neck of the woods. With the 13th District, currently occupied by Republican Michael Grimm, morphing into the 11th District, it bulks out further into Brooklyn to include parts of Sheepshead Bay and Gravesend.
Enter one of the new faces you’ll see more often as the election nears: Democrat Mark Murphy, who is challenging Grimm.
Murphy came before the Southern Brooklyn Democrats at their Monday night meeting this week, seeking support from the progressive group for his campaign. Murphy did a short Q&A, telling attendees that he hopes to “protect the next generation” and “those who do not have a voice,” as well as Medicare and Medicaid for the generation that came before. He slammed his opponent, Michael Grimm, for having slashed Medicare and Medicaid while offering tax cuts to overseas companies and oil companies.
Murphy also criticized Grimm for his failure to fight for jobs in New York City when federal guidelines force the city to turn to out-of-state contractors for public projects.
What caught our ear was a response Murphy gave to a question about the natural gas pipeline that may soon be installed beneath Jamaica Bay, Gateway National Recreation Area and Floyd Bennett Field. The bill permitting construction of such a pipeline was sponsored by Grimm. Murphy said he supported the expansion of natural gas service, but that if it’s to benefit a private company, the funding for it should come from private sources. However, a number of details in his answer revealed he was not familiar with some of the elements of the plan – such as the fact that no pipeline already exists within the park – or the safety and environmental concerns from neighbors.
Sheepshead Bites followed up with Murphy to ask him to clarify his stance, based on details we provided from our earlier coverage. Here is his updated statement:
We face a constant challenge in balancing our energy needs against protecting our natural resources, and this project is no exception. While this project, linking Brooklyn and Staten Island to an existing offshore pipeline, has the potential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and polluting high-sulfur heating oil it still brings clear risk to the environment. Therefore, I believe that any gas pipeline must first and foremost be built and managed under strict oversight and adhering the most rigorous environmental standards, and that any company with a poor safety record or past safety law violations should be banned from involvement in this project. No taxpayer funds should be used in its construction, and impingement on the seafloor must be minimized. While we still need a longer-term energy policy that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels in general, in the immediate future our responsibility is to ensure that we continue to phase out more polluting energy sources like high-sulfur home heating oil and decrease New York’s overall carbon footprint.
Southern Brooklyn Democrats voted to endorse Murphy at the end of the meeting.